Game #9
STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA
January 14, 2012 | 7:30 PM (PST)
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TEAM 1 2 3 4 FINAL
24 18 30 22 94
31 24 21 26 102


By Ryan Menezes

DeAndre Jordan skied high above fellow 7-footer Andrew Bynum to grab an offensive possession on the Clippers very first missed shot of the game.

It was an interesting start, since the Lakers were outrebounding opponents by an average of seven per game entering the contest against their rivals just down the Staples Center hallway. The Clippers were on average pulling down six less rebounds than the opposition during their first eight games.

Jordan extending the opening possession by a play gave the Clippers another chance to draw first blood. They did just that when Blake Griffin hit a 17-foot jumper to put Clippers up 2-0, a lead they would hold for the duration of the 102-94 win.

Rebounding has been a hot-button issue for these Clippers throughout their 6-3 start to the season. They certainly possess the bodies to clean up on the glass but have yet to see that in production. That was until Saturday, when they won the battle of the boards for the second time this season, 50-42.

“We knew that Kobe was going to come out and make some tough shots ... but our main goal was to limit them to one shot, try to make them take a bad shot, then get a body on their bigs to control the glass,” said Jordan, who had 10 rebounds.

Even in the absence of Jordan, who picked up his second foul less than four minutes into the game, backup Reggie Evans came in and did what the Clippers signed him to do: hit the boards, hard. Evans went scoreless but made his impact felt with six of the team’s 17 offensive rebounds. That helped create 25 second-chance points for the Clippers.

“I thought the difference in the ballgame was their ability to offensive rebound,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said.

“Obviously, you can look at their team and see the effect that Reggie Evans has had on their team. Even though he didn’t make a big difference int he scoring column, but coming up with six offensive rebounds, giving them extra possessions is huge.”

Learning how to win on the glass, especially against a team as long as the Lakers, is one of the many lessons the Clippers are going through in this crash course of a season. Saturday showed that it's not he who can reach highest that comes out on top -- it's he who hits harder when the ball is in the air.

“We have guys that are athletic, but if we don't get a body on people it doesn't matter how high you can jump,” Ryan Gomes said. “(The Lakers) had the length, but we had to get a body on them.”

Paul strains hamstring

Chris Paul capped off another season-best performance by hitting his a step-back jumper over the long arms of Bynum late in fourth quarter.

But when Paul landed after hitting the basket, he came up a little gimpy. It was diagnosed as a strained left hamstring, and Paul sat on the bench for the final four minutes of the game. He finished with 33 points, doing better than his previous season-high of 27, set two nights earlier against Miami.

“I tried to go back out there,” said Paul, who said he couldn’t recall exactly how he injured himself and didn’t know the extent of the injury post-game. “The trainer, JP (Jasen Powell), said it was in my best interests not to go back. ... He had to protect me from myself, basically. If it would have gotten close, man it would have been tough.”

LOS ANGELES–A number of nicknames came about in the lead up to the first regular season meeting between the Clippers and Lakers. Whether it was known as the “Battle of L.A.” or the “Hallway Series” or just one of 66 games on the truncated schedule, both teams played it off as the latter of the three.

It hardly resembled just another game, however, as the host Clippers knocked off the Lakers, 102-94, in a wire-to-wire victory Saturday night in front of 19,895 bi-partisan fans at Staples Center.

The Clippers (6-3) extended their home winning streak to five straight and handed the Lakers (9-5), who were on the second night of a back-to-back, their first loss in six games. They also out-rebounded the Lakers, 50-42, including 17 on the offensive glass (six by Reggie Evans alone).

After the Lakers rallied from 14 points down in the second half to pull within two, the Clippers regained command behind a scrappy defensive effort and a handful of daggers from Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Randy Foye in the final quarter.

“I thought overall we controlled the tempo of the game in the fourth quarter, which was one of the big keys for us,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Being able to get some rebounds, get some defensive stops, and being able to convert on the other end.”

Paul, who finished with 33 points on 12-of-22 shooting, left the game with a strained left hamstring after a step-back fadeaway over Lakers center Andrew Bynum with 4:01 remaining. The team, already without top reserve Mo Williams (sore right foot), is expected to re-evaluate Paul’s injury on Sunday.

With Kobe Bryant scoring 21 of his game-high 42 points in the third quarter, the Lakers climbed back in the game following a somewhat lethargic first half. But the Clippers, who opened the fourth with a 76-72 lead, scored 13 of the first 19 points in the quarter.

Foye (10 points) drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing off a pass from Griffin, who totaled 22 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. And Paul knocked down a 34-footer as the shot clock expired.

Paul’s long 3-pointer gave the Clippers an 84-76 lead, but it was a series of brilliant offensive plays that sealed the game. After Bryant committed the Lakers 11th turnover on an errant pass, Paul raced up the court, dished the ball to Griffin, who leapt to the rim but slipped a pass around Bynum for a DeAndre Jordan layup and foul by Pau Gasol.

Jordan (four points and 10 rebounds) missed the foul shot and Griffin out-hustled Bynum to draw a loose ball foul. Sixteen seconds later, Paul dropped his sixth assist to a cutting Griffin for an emphatic two-handed dunk to put the Clippers up 93-82.

“They were sort of coming into the game a little bit, trying to get a big momentum shift and just felt like I had to be aggressive and calm all that down,” Paul said of the big fourth quarter.

One of the initial keys for the Clippers was jumping on the weary-legged Lakers early. They opened the game scoring 13 of the first 17 points, highlighted by a step-back jumper from the elbow and a turnaround right-handed hook in the lane by Griffin and a 3-pointer from Chauncey Billups. The Lakers managed one field goal, a long jumper by Gasol, in the opening 4:35.

Billups finished with 19 points and made four of his six 3-point attempts.

Bryant, the league’s leading scorer, struggled from the field in the first half, shooting 3-for-12 with 11 points. Still, he dominated the third quarter as the Clippers surrendered all but two points of a 14-point lead. After Foye briefly curtailed the Laker run, Bryant made a contested 3-pointer from the right wing over Foye to cut the Clippers lead to 74-72, the closest the Lakers were since early in the second quarter.


Caron Butler scored nine points in the first quarter, giving him a total of 27 points in the last three quarters plus overtime. He had 13 for the game… The Lakers were called for six technical fouls, including two defensive 3-second violations. The Clippers were whistled for two and made 4 of their 5 free throws. The miss came from Billups, who’s only missed three shots from the line all season… Bryant’s 21 points in the third quarter was the most an opponent has scored in any quarter this season. The previous high was Jamal Crawford’s 13-point fourth on Jan. 1… There was a wild stretch at the end of the first quarter. Paul nailed a baseline fadeaway over Darius Morris and drew the foul to put the Clippers ahead 31-21 and the Lakers rookie answered with a 48-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull the Lakers within seven. After the game Morris said, “I can sit here and lie to you and say that I practice my 50-footers, but I don’t.”

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